Visiting Larnaca - What to See and Do
(Larnaca International Airport LCA, Cyprus)
One of the main cities on Cyprus
, the island's second-busiest port and home to its principal airport. This appealing seaside Cypriot city has a long and rich history, evident in its timeless architecture within the Turkish Quarter and its unique religious attractions related to Christianity and Islam.
With roughly 26 km / 16 miles of Blue Flag beaches to enjoy, Larnaca is one of the Mediterranean's top holiday destinations. The city is loaded with amenities catering to the hoards of tourists who descend on its streets and sand every year. Stroll the seaside Finikoudes Promenade and you will get a sense of what's in store.
Larnaca may have started life as a sleepy fishing village, but today the sunseekers have cranked up the energy levels. After dark, the city parties hard in its nightclubs and bars. There's no denying that this resort has an overtly tourist vibe, but that doesn't seem to deter anyone from enjoying their visit.
Ten things you must do in Larnaca
- There is a heavy presence of ancient religious passion in Larnaca, and some of its top attractions are churches and tombs. One site well worth a lingering visit is the Agios Lazarus Church, a magnificent example of 10th-century Byzantine architecture embellished with icons. The tomb of Saint Lazarus (Lazaros), a companion of Jesus back in the day, lies underneath the church.
- Finikoudes is the city's lovely seaside promenade that stretches along the central and popular beach of the same name. This is the hub of beach activity and water sports during the high season, ideal for socialising and grabbing a cruise boat from the nearby marina. The promenade is lined with restaurants, bars and other forms of entertainment.
- For a look at a really old part of Cyprus, head to the ruins of Kition, a port town that thrived around 1300 BC. It is just north of the centre of Larnaca and can be reached by foot or bike. While no Acropolis, it is still worth a look if you need a break from the beach.
- Larnaca Fort is one of the city's most notable historic landmarks. Its current form is the result of the Ottoman Empire, but inside is a fantastic little Medieval Museum. The fort's collection of relics from the ancient era of Larnaca is the main reason to visit, although the views are certainly quite pleasant.
- The best museum in the city is the Archaeological Museum. This venue houses an impressive collection of pottery from Kition, various Mycenaean items, and glassware from the Roman era. Its five rooms are filled with treasures and definitely worth a couple of hours.
- Most people come here for the beaches and there are literally miles of lovely sand to choose from. Among the most popular are the Finikoudes and McKenzie beaches, due to their lively social scene. Dasaki Pylas Beach is ideal for swimming, with its calm shallow waters, while Ellinas Beach is popular for wind surfing and water skiing.
- For a look at the Islamic heritage of Larnaca, spend an afternoon at the Hala Sultan Tekke mosque, which is situated next to a salt lake on the edge of town. The tomb of the Prophet Muhammad's aunt is here and is an important pilgrimage site. Pink flamingos also love the salt lake in autumn and winter when they migrate to the island.
- The finest private museum on Cyprus is the Pierides Foundation Museum. It contains a great range of artefacts dating all the way back to the Neolithic era, as well as some interesting everyday household items used in more recent centuries on Cyprus. The sculptures in the shady courtyard are also worth checking out.
- To really have a partying night out, head north up the coast to Ayia Napa, the undisputed party capital of Cyprus. Its clubbing scene is legendary, but you could easily spend a whole day or two playing in its amusement parks and along its beautiful beaches. You may be tempted to simply relocate your holiday to Ayia Napa if having fun tops your list of Cyprus priorities.
- The historic Turkish Quarter has the best atmosphere in Larnaca, with traditional houses and a maze of narrow winding streets that offer plenty to admire when wandering around. Lots of crafts shops, appealing little cafés and similar attractions are to be found tucked into the side streets of this charismatic quarter.